Saturday, January 14, 2017

A Handful of Buttons

A Corner of My Living Room
—Poems and Visuals by D.R. Wagner, Locke, CA


I have a document
That will explain your fate.
But it is so full of fairy tales
And adventure stories, of the ilk
Of R.L. Stevenson, that most
Will think it fiction and discord
Or smile upon it as one might
In discussing such things with a child.

Yet it is as true as your mother.

Smile then, that you too love old
Things, documents like this
That promise exciting answers.
They beg to hold our hands
That such marvels are revealed.

 Looking Toward My Kitchen
—Photo by D.R. Wagner


These were soldiers.  We have found
The bones.  What do we know of such things?
Ramon has found a handful of buttons,
Some rotted cloth, a dagger, rusted and silent.

In the tales of battle, there were two black swans.
They once had names.  Let me call your name.
There were portents: three cats, tales of Maine
Morgor from the old books, when armies fell
Upon one another, and what were tears then?

Nothing, my sweet children.  Do not trouble with war.
What comes into your house will be brave.
Let no bad work come to stain your walls.

I got up this dawn and made some coffee.
The sounds of the killing went through my body.
And now, here on the lip of the morning, bones.
Bones so old they should teach us lessons.
Broken shields, skulls smashed beyond dreaming.

We cannot stay here.  The fires rise up around us.
We tell these children, “Know the faces of your companions.
Know the way they formed words in their mouths.
Take joy in the language that they speak.  Learn
The breathing they bring to your spirit.
We may die for love of all these things,
That you may know them without blood.”

The sweet smell of pine trees just as dawn
Comes before us.  We arm ourselves and go
Toward what we think is beautiful and proud.
We are the fools of legends, dead
Within all of the stories.  Lost to you.
Bones like these, white and without
Any song at all.  A handful of buttons.

—Painting by Rafal Obinski


I will not talk to you just because
You are talking to me.
I’ve heard a lot of what
You have said regarding
Crows in general.

None of you people
Have any idea of what
We do every day.

We often do the final
Job, when the buzzards
Aren’t interested or the
Work is too much
Of a bother for them.

We find you interesting
At best and a real pain
Most of the time.

We do belong to the night.
You’ve noticed our beautiful
Color.  All of us black birds
Belong to the night.

We are here to remind you.
When you remember things,
You may now know
It is because of us.

Look up to the morning sky.
Look up to the evening sky.
We pass in great numbers.
Beware of what you dream,
Should we visit you there.

—Illustration by Josephine Wall


The way the wind went to light
As if it could last longer
In any other form.

But the wind is made of instants
And this light is but a moment.
Then, if one is looking, another one,
A treasure of breezes filled with stories.

I stand unwound in a great garden
And feel the wind become the moon,
Fulfilling what was felt
A humble dream.

So many of us, each dreaming
Separately, all believe in the power
Of the desires of this kind of wind,
That night after night such a moon persist,
Until it is used up.

—Illustration by Agnès Boulloche 


Such a triumph of vision.
White, the dull ghosts of twilight
Drop their veils and a polished
And timid light falls across
The afternoon, escaping in its

It is a crystal glass.  All
Becomes translucent to our
Very soul and our breath
Has as much substantial about
Itself as to allow such vision
To become maps for the senses.

Here we may become the stars again.
Here myth teaches love in its particular
Way and we have a method to watch
All borders dissolve.

The scent of hyacinth,
Violet, open layer upon layer
To create a monument
Never visible in any other way.

 Bee 1


Years later he left to roam,
A tender moon tucked
Under his arm, a garden
Held with his right hand.

Spring was blue around him,
Pools of it in his eyes
And in every twilight.

“I am bringing treasure
With my flesh at last,” he sang.
And the dust rose up around him
And he was found to be dead.

 Bee 2


We hadn’t really abandoned him
At the village.  We had to be taken
To witness those secrets that we
Have learned to call the stars.

We were to know them so differently
And he had been wandering past
Breaking and we could not see him
With the moon full upon us in this manner.

There were no paths to show
Which way we had gone.  Even now
The splendor of the place attaches
Itself to our clothing and causes us
To speak in terms of evocation
To the spirit.  Why else would you
Bother to read this?

Of course we will wait for you.
None of us should be frightening.
We are no longer prisoners. 
This is no longer night.
We will hold you until we are one together.

 Bee 3


Today’s LittleNip:

Every man has a sane spot somewhere.

—R.L. Stevenson


—Medusa, with thanks to D.R. Wagner for today’s fine poetic and visual sanity!

 Celebrate your sane spot—and the rest of you, too! 
And head down to Sac. Poetry Center tonight for the 
Second Saturday reception of the new Sable & Quill 
exhibit and reading, 6-9pm (reading begins at 7:30pm). 
Scroll down to the blue column (under the green 
column at the right) for info about this and other 
upcoming poetry events in our area—and note 
that more may be added at the last minute.

Photos in this column can be enlarged by clicking on them once,
then click on the X in the top right corner to come back
to Medusa.